As the last of the Valentine’s Day chocolate is being eaten, I write to raise some red flags relating to “romance scams”.
The US Embassy in Ghana has recently posted a warning about internet romance or friendship scams, particularly relating to correspondents purporting to be in Ghana.
The US Embassy has posted a list of “indicators” that may indicate a scam. These include:
- You met a friend/fiancé online.
- You have never met face to face.
- Your correspondent professed love at “warp speed”.
- Your friend/fiancé is plagued with medical or other life problems that require loans.
- You are promised repayment upon the inheritance of alluvial gold or gems (!).
- You have sent money for visas or plane tickets, but the person cannot seem to make it out of Ghana.
- When your correspondent does try to leave the country, he or she claims to have been in a car accident or is detained by immigration, and requires more money.
- Your correspondent consistently uses lower case “i’s” and/or grammar not in keeping with their supposed live station or education level.
Internet scams appear to be a growth industry. According to the 2017 Internet Crime Report of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, they have received over 300,000 complaints in 2017. The value of victim losses in 2017 was $1.42 Billion!
Source: FBI IC3 2017 Internet Crime Report
The number and dollar value of the losses are higher amongst older victims. As a result, the US Justice Department announced a coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases under the “Elder Justice Initiative”. “The mission of the Elder Justice Initiative is to support and coordinate the Department’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s seniors.”
Now, if only they can do something about that guy who keeps emailing me to say that he has hacked my computer, and asking me for $737 worth of bitcoins in exchange for not sending videos of me surfing the internet to all of my contacts.
Thanks for reading.